Author Jessica Hooten Wilson’s love for God and passion for his gifts of language and reading are evident on every page of her clarion call to read deeply and widely. She insists reading can be a spiritual practice that will increase readers’ love for God and their neighbor. She explains, “Reading is a spiritual discipline akin to fasting and prayer and one that trains you in the virtues, encourages your sanctification, and elicits your love for those noble, admirable, and beautiful things of which St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Philippians.”
Hooten Wilson elucidates other reasons why reading is of utmost importance for Christians: “We read because without books our world shrinks, our empathy thins, and our liberty wanes. We read for the same reason that people have read – and shared poems or stories – for thousands of years: because our eyes are not enough by which to see. The time and place in which we live blinds us to other perspectives and ways of being that are not of our own experience. We read because we have been given the gift of imagination and intellect, and we exhibit our gratitude by using it.”
In order to help readers learn how to read well, the author recommends practicing reading according to the habits and methods of other readers worth emulating. She asks, “What would it look like to read as Augustine did? Or as Julian of Norwich read? As Frederick Douglass read? As Dorothy L. Sayers? How might we emulate reading with charity, memorizing the best that has been thought and said, and creating from what we read?” Hooten Wilson pauses intermittently to investigate what these well-known Christian writers/readers teach us about reading as a spiritual practice.
Though somewhat academic, Reading for the Love of God is informative, engaging and enriching for anyone who wants to learn how to better love God and their neighbor by reading as a spiritual practice. (Brazos Press)